Close to You

It was a beautiful fall morning, and I was working in my flower bed. It was time to prepare for the unknown weather conditions of the upcoming winter. It was time to prepare the outdoors for cold weather.

When I went indoors to gather my garden tools, my dog was sitting by the front door. She was waiting for me. Hoping I would come indoors and spend time with her. On a Saturday afternoon, she prefers to sit by my side. She enjoys being in my presence.

So I got her leash and tied her up outside near the flower bed. She wanted so badly to be near me that she sat right in the middle of the flower bed. She sat as close as she could possibly get to me. She just wanted to be with me. She loves me. She trusts me. She enjoys being with me.

After awhile, she ventured further away. She sat several feet away in the grass enjoying the beautiful day. She sat where she could always see me. She wanted to keep me in her line of sight. She wanted me to know that she was waiting for me to come close. She hoped I would take a break from my work to sit down and rub her belly. She wanted me to make time for her. She wanted to know that I felt the same love for her that she felt for me.

This dog guards me like it’s nobody’s business. She stands glued to my side. She even protects me from the man whose name I share. She will stand in front of me to make sure I’m ok when he and I are in the same room. If he tries to hug me, she jumps on him. She protects me from her perceived evils. She is my guard and protector.


The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalms 145:18


Oh. How my Heavenly Father does the same for me. He loves me. He wants me to spend time with him. He’s always there. Waiting. Hoping I’ll set aside the things I call important to be with him.

There are times he sits so close that I can’t move without bumping into him. And I love that. I want to always be in his presence. Don’t I? There are other times that he is watching from the sidelines. He’s hoping that I’ll put down my garden tools of life and choose to open his word. The book of life he’s given me to read. He wants to be with me. He wants me to love him the way that he loves me. He wants to spend time with me. He wants me to want to spend time with him. But he doesn’t force me. He allows me to choose my priorities and allegiances.

God is my protector. He is my shield and defender in time of battle. He goes before me and behind me. He surrounds me with his presence. In known dangers and even in unknown, he is with me. He hides me in the cleft of the rock and covers me with his blood of redemption.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23:1-6

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Sure Footing

He noticed wrongdoing at work. He took it as long as he could. So he talked to his bosses. They listened. Offered to help. Told him to be cautious. The harassment continued. So a formal complaint was filed and a hearing was scheduled.

His family prayed. His friends prayed. His church prayed. They hoped and prayed that the wrongs would be righted. That the bullies would be put in their place.

That didn’t happen.

His boss sided with the bad guys. He was told to forget it and move on. No wrongdoing was found. It was just personality differences. That’s what they said.

Now what? How was he supposed to continue working with people he couldn’t trust? How would he get a fair review from sketchy reviewers? What was his next step? What should he do?

How does someone handle life when God hasn’t come through for him? At least in the way he hoped and needed. What does a person do when life gets tougher when it was already tough enough?

Our situational difficulty may be our spiritual necessity. Kandy Persall

Someone else seemed to have the world at his fingertips. His career was looking up. He was going to make a name for himself. Things were going his way. Until they weren’t.  Until his world came crashing down. He lost the business. He lost his family. Then he lost hope. He had nowhere to turn.

It seemed that the foundation his faith was built on was shifting sand. Not the solid rock he thought it was. Was his faith in himself or in God? The test was becoming far too real for comfort. Failure had never been an option, but now it seemed all other options were gone. Where was hope when he needed it most?

What do you do when life throws you a curve ball that you just can’t dodge. How do you trust God when he seems to have let you down?

She had a rough day at work. She was out with friends eating dinner. The first thing she did was order a drink. To take the edge off.  She needed to calm down. Calm her nerves. That’s what she said.

Why was her first thought to numb the stress? Why not walk through the stress with God by your side?  Why not open the word of God? Find a biblical promise to guide you and hold you through the stresses of life? She says she trusts God, but why is alcohol the first comfort she reaches for?


But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. Psalms 73:2


At times, all we have during our hurts, trials and disappointments is Jesus. He’s the calm in the storm. He’s the light shining in the darkest night. He’s the fighter in the fight for survival. He’s the refuge when the going gets tough.

Isn’t Jesus enough? Has he proven himself to you? Do you let him prove himself or do you run straight to that bottle? Or that lottery ticket?  Or that website? Or that credit card?

When will Jesus be enough if you’ve never let him show you that he is enough?

Pain hurts. Fear scares. Pride puffs. Disappointment disappoints. Through it all. God still stands. He is always victorious in his battles.  

Even when our feet slip and our footing is unsure in this life, God is the anchor. He is the rock. He is the current in the stream of life. He stays with us and keeps us from falling if we reach for him. If he is the source of strength we turn to in our most difficult, darkest moments, we will see him shine as bright as the day. His promises are true. He can be trusted. His love is sure even when times aren’t.

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. C.S. Lewis

Above the Fray

I watched a video recently of sand breaking apart as ocean water washed up on it. The sand that had once looked sturdy, thick and solid was crumbling. With one sweep of an ocean wave, the sand that appeared to be packed tight, instantly split apart and fell into the waves. The sand had no strength against the strong force of the ocean. It wasn’t prepared for the liquid force of nature against each tiny granule. The ocean won that day.

Fabric can fray. In order to prevent a bolt of fabric from fraying, the edges of the lengthwise grain of the fabric are tightly and thickly woven. It’s called the selvage. Once cut, though, the fabric can easily fray. If not careful, several inches of fabric can be lost due to the fraying.

Life can be tricky and uncertain. Circumstances out of our control can easily tear us apart. If our faith isn’t firmly grounded in the truth of God’s word, it can fall apart at the slightest notion. If our faith is formed by those who call themselves light but are indeed darkness, will we realize before it’s too late that we’ve been deceived? How strong is faith if it hasn’t been tested and tried? Is it even faith?


If the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! Matthew 6:23


How can a person live above the fray of life without unraveling? How does one hold it together when life is falling apart? When the wind blows the house down? When the waves cause the walls to collapse around you? When you’re accused of wrongdoing even though you’ve done no wrong? When everything seems to go wrong all at the same time? How do you stand in the midst of the crumbling sand? When the test of time tests your faith, does your faith still stand?

Jesus could cite biblical passages to explain his behavior. His entire life was exactly in line with biblical teaching. If someone questioned his actions, he could quote Scripture to back up his behavior. He could discuss biblical passages with comfort and ease. He lived above the fray. Even when tempted, he resisted. Can you? Can I?

How do you explain your behavior?  Does it fall in line with Scripture?  Love your neighbor and your enemy.  Do good to those who persecute you.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Turn the other cheek.  Forgive as you have been forgiven.  Don’t steal or kill. Don’t commit adultery. Resist temptation. 

I look at my life. My actions. What part of Scripture do they point to?

How far above the fray do I live? Could my faith unravel at a moment’s notice? Am I living far enough away from the shoreline that I won’t sink or drown? Do I live just close enough to be accepted by those who don’t call themselves believers? Do I toe the line just enough to say I’m a follower of Christ? Does my life reflect continual growth and knowledge of God’s word?

I have to ask myself. Do my thoughts reflect the attitude of Christ? Do my words cast doubt about my relationship with God? Do my actions mirror biblical truth?

Seek the truth. Know the truth. Live the truth.

Invisible

Sometimes I feel invisible at work. I work hard. I do my job well. I don’t cause trouble. If I didn’t speak up about issues I feel strongly about, would I even be noticed?

Is it because I don’t make waves? I don’t cause trouble.  I don’t do personal things at work. So I’m not noticed. That should be a good thing. Right?

Why am I not included in certain group emails or chats that relate to questions I can answer? Why am I not offered preferential treatment like others are?

Why does special treatment pass over me to others who’ve come after me? Because where I work seniority is everything. Except when it comes to me. Or so it seems.

I ask myself these questions but I don’t voice them. But it doesn’t make sense to me.

These are things I ponder. But I don’t want to dwell on them too long, or they could begin to fester. My wondering could become a bad attitude and take me down a path of sin. Sin as in grudges, treating others in a way that puts me and them in a bad light. Gossip. Saying things, true or not, about others just to puff up myself and put them down.  I don’t need that, nor do I want it.


Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. Isaiah 43:1


I received a great performance review. No negative feedback. No suggestions for improvement. A decent raise. But it makes me wonder. What was the feedback they should have given? After all, I’m far from perfect. Or does my reviewer just not know how to give feedback, regardless of it being positive or negative. 

I ponder. I have to leave it all in God’s hands, because his ways are higher than my ways. His plan is perfect. I need to trust him even when I can’t see the road ahead.  Perhaps God is protecting me. Shielding me from petty differences. Guiding me down a narrow path, because the wide path may lead to disgrace or discouragement. Perhaps he has me right where he wants me. And I just need to let go of any feelings of concern that could begin to grow if I dwell long and hard enough on them.

Why can’t I be content where I am? Why do I continue to want what I don’t have, even though I don’t know what I want? And I know that what I have is right for me right now. Do I just want to be noticed and rewarded for doing my job? Is this just an issue of pride trying to replace my humble lot in life?

I know the One who knows my name. I am not invisible to Him. He knows the plans He has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me hope and a future. He holds my future in his hands. And my future in His hands far outshines the future I can try to manipulate or instigate. I need to be silent and wait for His lead. May His name be praised.